Thursday, September 27, 2012

Children Are Like A Puzzle

Some children come with all the pieces and they fit so perfectly together. You begin with the boarder or frame of the puzzle. Then, you work your way to the pieces in the middle to complete the picture. These puzzles look exactly like the picture of the front of the box. Maybe even a little better because you assembled it.

Other children don’t come with all of the puzzle pieces. The traditional puzzle building skills don’t apply to this puzzle; therefore, you scramble to learn different puzzle building skills. The pieces don’t all fit together… so you cut a few of the pieces to allow them to complete the picture. You can’t begin with the boarder because there aren’t any straight edged pieces… you don’t know where to begin. So, you start in the middle and try to match like pieces… one at a time. You end up with different parts of the whole… all clustered together.

After working for a while you begin to see the puzzle come together.  The clusters of pieces are starting to form images that are recognizable. The parts are coming together as a whole. From what you can see so far it is the most beautiful picture you have ever seen in your life. It certainly does not look like any other puzzle you have ever seen before. There is no other puzzle like it. It is one of a kind… an original… a special edition! This glimpse motivates you and gives you hope. You are eager to finish it because you know it will be your best work yet! Yet, you are patient because you know that puzzles can’t be built in a day.

I am still building the puzzle… learning different puzzle building skills… cutting a few pieces along the way… I began with the middle… piece by piece… in parts… in clusters… being patient. But from the glimpse I have so far… it is the most beautiful picture I have ever seen in my entire life. I am going to frame this one! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Be still

There is a lesson I am trying to learn to right now. Usually I wouldn’t say that I’m “trying” to do anything. Usually I would just say I am doing it. In our home we don’t try, we do. However, I am trying to be still. It is part of my nature to want to go…go…go and do…do…do. However, this part of me runs me into the ground and causes much anxiety in my life. As a do-er, I am always becoming better today than I was yesterday. So my today’s are filled with “trying” to find moments to be still… to be in the moment… to just be.

I am full of energy to get stuff done. I make lists. I check things off of my lists. If I do something that was not on my list… I add it to the list just so I can cross it off. I have post-it notes all over my command station in the kitchen. These to-dos dictate my todays.

When I am not accomplishing and checking things off of my lists I am thinking about tomorrow… or next week… or next month. I’m planning, I’m preparing, I’m gettin’ ‘er done.

With my multitude of post-its hanging around waiting for me… I forget to be still. I forget that today has enough problems of their own. I try to be still then out of the corner of my eye I see my bright pink post-it notes waving at me. They are all like, “Hey there! Remember us! We need to be accomplished and checked off!” 

I’d be better at being still if it wasn’t so… you know… still and all. I could accomplish this to-do if it was a lesson in kind of being still… or slowing down… or slow motion… but to be still… yeah, that’s hard. It requires full mind and body stillness. And, that’s precisely why God asks us to be still… because it is hard… because it is necessary for mental, physical, and spiritual health and well being.

When I don’t incorporate stillness in my days then I feel stressed out… overwhelmed… unstill. Where I have landed in my quest for stillness is in a place of continually trying… continually needing reminders… continually in motion towards stillness... continually putting forth effort to just be. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cycle of Life Changing Events

Since birth I’ve been in a cycle of change. We all have… really. I’m not just talking about gradual change though. I’m talking big changes… life changing events. This cyclic loop occurs every 3-4 years for me. Let me explain…

When I was 3 years old my mom moved us from New Jersey to Arizona. When I was 7 years old my little brother was born… I was no longer the baby. When I was in the 5th grade my family moved across town and I started a new school. Then, in rhythm with my life cycle, 4 years later I began high school. I spent 4 years in high school and then college after that.  I was engaged for 4 years before I got married. I was married for 4 years when I became pregnant with my son. When my son was 3 we moved across the country to Tennessee. We spent almost 4 years in Tennessee… then, you guessed it… another change. We moved back to Arizona. We have now been back for 3 years.

For 37 years my life has been in a cyclic loop. In keeping with this cycle, my time is coming up again. I am expecting a life changing event. Change is lurking. My cycle of life has not allowed me to be in a place of stillness for more than 4 years. Every 4 years my comfort zone has been invaded. I have the growing pains and stretch marks to prove it.  

I’ve even noticed myself trying to conjure up a change… out of habit… out of honor for my cycle of life. Should we move? Should I change jobs? Should I finish my Masters degree? It is a guessing game. Instead of me just being still and trusting that all things will work out… I am trying to guess what is next. I am fortunately realizing that life changing events cannot be forced or guessed. They just have to flow naturally like all the other changes I’ve had. You would think that I would have at least learned that. God’s will just flows with grace in our lives.

Nothing can prepare me for a life changing event. That is precisely what scares me the most. I hate not being prepared. I spend half of my life preparing and planning. I like to know what’s next… with advanced notice, thank you very much. I don’t like big sudden changes. They stress me out! Great… now my eye is twitching!

So here I am in a waiting place… I find myself in a holding pattern. It is an unfamiliar feeling to me. It is like I am playing a game of freeze tag and I am frozen in place. I am waiting for someone (or a life changing event) to unfreeze me… tag me so that I can run once again. 

Or not. Maybe I can stay frozen for a while. Maybe I can finally get comfortable in life. Maybe the cycle of life changing events will taper off. Maybe… just maybe… my life will stabilize. Maybe I can begin to settle into this place. Maybe I can just be still for once. Ahhhh... to be still. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

When you are in the water…

When you are in the water you don’t know you are wet. You don’t feel the wetness. You don’t actually feel how wet you really are until you are out of the water. Or if you are dry and get splashed by the water then you are sensitive to the wetness. But, when you are in the midst of the wetness… immersed… drowning even… you don’t feel wet. There is just water all around you.

It is necessary to dry off every once in a while… get out of the water for a bit. It is so refreshing to dry off. Like the feeling of a warm summer evening swim… when you get out of the pool and you are chilly because the water is lifting off of your body and evaporating into the air. Your senses are heightened during the drying off process. You become lighter. You become… well… dried off.

My water is my home life. I get so overwhelmed by the expectations and responsibilities. When I am in the midst of that I don’t feel the saturation. The water permeates my soul. I don’t feel my fingers pruning… even though they are. My goggles and my view start to get cloudy. I get water logged and bloated from being in the water for too long. I start wading and floating instead of swimming.

It isn’t until I go out with my girlfriends and allow myself time to get out of the water that I begin to feel the weight of the saturation being lifted… evaporating into the air.  My pruning fingers dry up. My goggles and cloudy view become clear again. I feel separate from the wetness of the expectations and responsibilities.  I feel refreshed… renewed… reenergized.

Once I am dry… I am ready to jump back in. I am ready to feel wet again. I am ready to swim the necessary laps. I am ready for the expectations and responsibility my home life demands. That is… until I get too wet. Then I know I have to get out of the water… and dry off yet again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Little Seed Grows Into An Oak Tree... Accepting Change

God plants a little seed in your heart and waters it until it grows. I believe He starts small with a little seed because otherwise we would be overwhelmed with a big oak tree all of a sudden sticking out of us… awkwardly not knowing what to do about it. By starting with a seed we can slowly make room in our hearts for the oak tree to grow… getting used to its place and purpose and direction of growth.

God’s little seed has grown into an oak tree in my heart… on so many levels that it has become a forest inside me. I am called to re-seed and grow yet another oak tree.  I am being pruned so that I will become even more fruitful.

I pray that God has planted many little seeds inside each of your hearts. Make room for those little seeds to grow. Get used to their place and purpose. Be sensitive and aware of their direction of growth. Allow them to cultivate and nourish. I also pray that once your oak tree is grown that God will prune each of you so that you will become even more fruitful.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Giving My Special Needs Son All of Me

God knew the plans He had for me… to have one child. Therefore, he gave me one child with the energy and the needs of three. My one-and-only has ADHD and Anxiety.

Three years ago when we received this diagnosis, it wasn’t any surprise to me. I knew there was something. I mean parenting didn’t look this difficult for other parents. If all children were like this then there might be an end to people having multiple children. Everyone would have a one-and-only.

There was a time when I was in denial… a time when I wished this wasn’t God’s plan… a time when I didn’t think I had what it was going to take to be on this journey.  Isn’t that just like God to give us a life that we can’t succeed in without finding our strength in Him? That’s how He rolls!

After I grieved my son’s diagnosis, I realized that I had two options… I could be in denial and try to mold him into what society thinks he should be or I could give him my all and be his advocate. My choice was, and continues to be, to give my special needs son my all… I also decided that you are either with me or against me.

My parenting journey doesn’t leave me much time for myself. I try to steal time at night to read a book, write, blog, or facebook. That is my time to decompress.  I try to find separation. So, I go out with my girlfriends. This is a moment in my life where I can just be me… not a mommy… not a wife… just Melissa. I yearn for those moments to be refreshed and renewed.

My parenting journey doesn’t leave any time for my husband either. I read a statistic recently that 80% of parents with an ADHD child are divorced. 80%.  If you are shocked by that high number… you probably don’t have a child with ADHD. Our relationship suffers. Our relationship is in danger. The reality of it is that my son is a priority over my marriage. I know this might get under your skin. I know all the books on marriage say not to do this. I don’t feel like there is any other option for me. Remember… I chose to give my son my all. When I don’t feel like my husband is with me… I feel like he is against me.

My husband has the luxury of checking out on us. There will be spans of time where he is uninvolved and pulls away. I am at fault for this… I push him away when my days are long and exhausting… I push him away when I decided that the routines are just easier for me to do myself than ask for help. I don’t have the energy or time to chase after him when he is emotionally somewhere else… I just let him go to his distant place. I know he’ll be back. His emotions and involvement will return. He will return refreshed, decompressed, and renewed. In the meantime, I pick-up the pieces… I carry the load. My world does not and cannot stop. Sure, I get resentful and bit jealous too. But, I made a choice.

I haven’t done a very good job of communicating my struggles to my husband, my family, or my friends. My parenting struggles began when my son was 3 years old. I knew then that he was different than other children. Not bad different… just not the same different. I didn’t talk about it. Not out of shame. I just figured it is my burden… my cross to bear. I figure nobody will understand. You can’t really understand unless you have a child with ADHD.

Here’s a perfect scenario of our current life… On school nights if we aren’t doing an exuberant amount of homework because he didn’t finish his work at school … then I spend my evenings consumed in routine because that’s where he is most comfortable… I spend my evenings decompressing him so that he can “re-set” his anxiety level… I spend my evenings helping him feel renewed for tomorrow… a new day. I didn’t choose to have a special needs child… that journey chose me. However, even though there are days where I feel drained and exhausted, I feel blessed to have been chosen.

Having a special needs child is exhausting. It is draining. There are many days when I have nothing left to give. His emotions are always so raw and so real… frustration, anger, anxiety… love, happiness, and appreciation… no matter the feeling he is over the top. On the down side it can be a struggle but the up side makes it all worthwhile. My one-and-only loves as if he had a heart the size of a planet. That is… IF he chooses to let you in.
His love languages are quality time and gifts. If you invest in him with your time and attention then he will give you all of his love.  If you don’t invest then he won’t give you the time of day.

My son knows without a morsel of doubt that I love him. What a great feeling… to know that no matter what, there is always one person in this world who is for you… one person in this world who will love you unconditionally... one person in this world who wants to give you the world. Oh… how I do love my son! Love is that big. Love is that important.

Like I said, my one-and-only is different. But, WOW is he amazing! He is different in a good way. He is growing so nicely into his unique self. He is so caring and compassionate. He is so emotionally aware. He so loves. When a slow song plays he wants to dance with me in the kitchen. When I hurt myself he stops what he is doing and runs to get me a band aid. When I am sad he literally wipes my tears away. He hugs and kisses. Out of the blue he tells me he loves me… he tells me he loves himself. He tells me I am his favorite mommy and he thanks me for being his perfect teacher. All of this is the fruit of my labor of love. The juice is worth the squeeze.

I am at peace with God’s plan… with my choice… with my journey… with my child. I have come to terms with the facts of my world. I own God’s plan… I own my choice… I own my journey… I own that I have a special needs child. I have come to terms with the consequences.  I’d give my one-and-only the world… my world to be exact.

This is my season of life… smack dab in the middle. Having a special needs child means I put his needs before mine… gladly and with pleasure. He is going to have all of me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Ketchup Debacle and Waving the White Flag of Surrender

I was reminded of my state of anal retentiveness the other day. There is something that I do that is just a habit. I really don’t think about it… I just do it… like breathing or blinking.

I check dates on products. I do this first at the grocery store before I even buy a product. I take the cold, oldest dated product… usually from the back. Then, at home before I consume a product I check the date again. I check the date each and every time before I consume it even if I just checked it yesterday.  

I’m not sure why I do this. Probably a sour milk experience has left me with an emotional scar. Perhaps those of you who have had some counseling can give me a diagnosis. I’m certain that anal retentiveness or OCD would be in THAT diagnosis.

My mind was blown the other day when I realized that the ketchup in the fridge was expired. I re-read that date a few times and blinked really hard… surely this isn’t true. I even told my husband…waiting for him to tell me I was mistaken. Reality set in.

How could this have happened? Did I use it without checking the date? I thought I might throw-up. I was disappointed that my system had failed me. The system being checks and balances… control issues with dates so that I feel in control of something in my life… anal retentiveness as a security… OCD as a routine. The system had a melt-down. The system crashed. The ketchup was expired for crying out loud! Mayday! Mayday!

After about an hour of obsessing over the “ketchup debacle” I realized that even though I wasn’t in control of the ketchup’s freshness… I was still okay. Even though my system failed… I was still okay.

Hmmmm….maybe I didn’t need this system. Maybe I could CTRL, ALT, DELETE this system and still get by…. nah… that’s just crazy talk!

Although I do need a system of some sort (just who I am), I am going to be more apt to let a few other things go because I know that I’m not really in control, ever. I am waving the white flag. I am surrendering my issues to God. God is in control, always. God will carry my burden. God will take care of my concerns. I just wish God would check the dates on the ketchup bottle for me. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Microwave Version of a Real Solution

I’ve had a difficult decision to make. The details of the decision are really irrelevant. The decision making process is more of the focus; which can really apply to any situation.

I am aware that the obvious choice is not the choice that I need to make… at least at this time it is not. I need a first step. Instead of thinking of an immediate solution I need to think long term. What decision is going to be best for the future? Of course I want a quick fix… a microwave version of a real solution. But, that just doesn’t feel right. And, trust me I know exactly what I could do for an immediate fix. However, I don’t want to be reactionary. I want my decision to be part of an overall plan.

It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to take baby steps, monitor, re-assess, and then take another baby step. Short term pain is worth long term gain… at least that’s what I’ve heard.

When I prayed about this situation…God told me to trust Him. That doesn’t mean I just sit around and trust that the situation is going to work its self out. Nope! God gave me a beautiful mind and the ability to make choices on my own for a reason.

When God told me to trust… what I felt He meant was to stop panicking, stop worrying, stop being emotional, and stop trying to react…start to trust that it’s all going to work out, start to use my beautiful mind, start to take my emotions out of the situation, and start to make a plan… a long term plan.

I trusted God. In turn, He gave me clarity and peace. The microwave version of a real solution will have to stay in the pantry.